|Publication number||US20060034701 A1|
|Application number||US 11/002,476|
|Publication date||Feb 16, 2006|
|Filing date||Dec 1, 2004|
|Priority date||Nov 24, 1999|
|Also published as||US7387660|
|Publication number||002476, 11002476, US 2006/0034701 A1, US 2006/034701 A1, US 20060034701 A1, US 20060034701A1, US 2006034701 A1, US 2006034701A1, US-A1-20060034701, US-A1-2006034701, US2006/0034701A1, US2006/034701A1, US20060034701 A1, US20060034701A1, US2006034701 A1, US2006034701A1|
|Inventors||Ross Tessien, Dario Gaitan|
|Original Assignee||Impulse Devices, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (21), Classifications (27), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/961,353, filed Oct. 7, 2004, which is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/448,753, filed Nov. 24, 1999.
The present invention relates generally to sonoluminescence and, more particularly, to a degassing procedure for use with a sonoluminescence cavitation chamber.
Sonoluminescence is a well-known phenomena discovered in the 1930's in which light is generated when a liquid is cavitated. Although a variety of techniques for cavitating the liquid are known (e.g., spark discharge, laser pulse, flowing the liquid through a Venturi tube), one of the most common techniques is through the application of high intensity sound waves.
In essence, the cavitation process consists of three stages; bubble formation, growth and subsequent collapse. The bubble or bubbles cavitated during this process absorb the applied energy, for example sound energy, and then release the energy in the form of light emission during an extremely brief period of time. The intensity of the generated light depends on a variety of factors including the physical properties of the liquid (e.g., density, surface tension, vapor pressure, chemical structure, temperature, hydrostatic pressure, etc.) and the applied energy (e.g., sound wave amplitude, sound wave frequency, etc.).
Although it is generally recognized that during the collapse of a cavitating bubble extremely high temperature plasmas are developed, leading to the observed sonoluminescence effect, many aspects of the phenomena have not yet been characterized. As such, the phenomena is at the heart of a considerable amount of research as scientists attempt to not only completely characterize the phenomena (e.g., effects of pressure on the cavitating medium), but also its many applications (e.g., sonochemistry, chemical detoxification, ultrasonic cleaning, etc.). A by-product of this research have been several patents claiming various aspects of the process.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,333,796 discloses a cavitation chamber comprised of a refractory metal such as tungsten, titanium, molybdenum, rhenium or some alloy thereof. Acoustic energy is supplied to the liquid (e.g., lithium or an alloy thereof) within the chamber by six metal acoustic horns coupled to transducers. The tips of the horns project into the chamber while the rearward portion of each horn is coupled to a heat exchanger system, the heat exchanger system withdrawing heat generated by the reactions within the chamber and conducted out of the chamber via the metal horns. The inventors note that by removing heat in this manner, the liquid remains within the chamber, thus avoiding the need to pump the chamber liquid. An external processing system with a combination pump and mixer is disclosed for removing deuterium and tritium gases released from the cavitation zone and trapped within the chamber or tritium gases trapped within the Li-blanket surrounding the chamber and then reintroducing the previously trapped deuterium and tritium into the cavitation zone. Additional deuterium may also be introduced into the mixer.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,563,341, a continuation-in-part of U.S. Pat. No. 4,333,796, discloses a slightly modified, cylindrical cavitation chamber. The chamber is surrounded by an external heating coil which allows the liquid within the chamber to be maintained at the desired operating temperature. The system is degassed prior to operation by applying a vacuum through a duct running through the cover of the chamber. During operation, the inventor notes that graphite, dissolved in the host liquid metal, is converted to diamond. The diamond-rich host material is removed via an outlet duct adjacent to the bottom of the chamber and graphite-rich host material is removed via an outlet duct adjacent to the upper end of the chamber. Additional host material and graphite are added by lowering rods comprised of the host material and graphite, respectively, into the heated chamber.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,659,173 discloses a sonoluminescence system that uses a transparent spherical flask fabricated from Pyrex®, Kontes®, quartz or other suitable glass and ranging in size from 10 milliliters to 5 liters. The inventors disclose that preferably the liquid within the flask is degassed and the flask is sealed prior to operation. In one disclosed embodiment, the cavitation chamber is surrounded by a temperature control system, thus allowing the liquid within the chamber to be cooled to a temperature of 1° C.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,858,104 discloses a shock wave chamber partially filled with a liquid. The remaining portion of the chamber is filled with gas which can be pressurized by a connected pressure source. Acoustic transducers mounted in the sidewalls of the chamber are used to position an object within the chamber. Another transducer mounted in the chamber wall delivers a compressional acoustic shock wave into the liquid. A flexible membrane separating the liquid from the gas reflects the compressional shock wave as a dilation wave focused on the location of the object about which a bubble is formed.
Although a variety of sonoluminescence systems have been designed, typically these systems do not provide a convenient method of degassing the cavitation fluid within a cavitation chamber without subjecting the fluid to potential contamination and/or loss. Accordingly, what is needed is an efficient and convenient cavitation fluid degassing procedure. The present invention provides such a procedure.
The present invention provides a method for degassing cavitation fluid using a closed-loop cavitation fluid circulatory system coupled between the cavitation chamber and a fluid reservoir. The procedure is comprised of multiple stages, the number of stages utilized dependent upon the desired level of degassing. During the first stage, the cavitation fluid contained within the reservoir is degassed using an attached vacuum system. The reservoir can either be filled directly, or filled by pumping the fluid contained within the closed-loop circulatory system into the reservoir.
After the fluid within the reservoir is sufficiently degassed, the second stage of degassing is performed. In this stage the cavitation fluid is pumped through the circulatory system and into the cavitation chamber. Once the chamber is filled, pumping of the cavitation fluid through the chamber is discontinued. Next the fluid within the cavitation chamber is cavitated, thereby releasing gases dissolved within the cavitation fluid. After a sufficient amount of time has passed, or after a sufficient amount of gas has accumulated within the chamber, the circulatory system is used to pump the accumulated gas out of the chamber. Gradually the gas pumped out of the chamber enters the reservoir where it can be removed, as desired, using the attached vacuum system.
Although at the conclusion of the first and second stages of degassing the cavitation fluid may be sufficiently degassed for many purposes, in a preferred embodiment a third stage of degassing is employed. During this stage of degassing cavities are formed within the cavitation fluid within the chamber using any of a variety of means such as neutron bombardment, laser vaporization, localized heating, etc. Once formed, the cavities are cavitated, thereby releasing dissolved gases within the fluid. After a sufficient amount of time has passed, or after a sufficient amount of gas has accumulated within the chamber, the circulatory system is used to pump the accumulated gas out of the chamber. Gradually the gas pumped out of the chamber enters the reservoir where it can be removed, as desired, using the attached vacuum system.
A further understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention may be realized by reference to the remaining portions of the specification and the drawings.
Illustrated chamber 101 has an outer spherical surface 103 defining the outer diameter of the chamber and an inner spherical surface 105 defining the inner diameter of the chamber. Chamber 101 can be fabricated from any of a variety of metals although there are some constraints placed on the chamber material. First, the material is preferably machinable, thus simplifying the fabrication process. Second, if the chamber is to be operated at a high temperature, the chamber material should have a relatively high melting temperature. Additionally, depending upon the process used to assemble individual chamber pieces together (e.g., brazing), a high melting temperature is preferred as it aids the assembly process. Third, the chamber material should be corrosion resistant, thus allowing the chamber to be used repeatedly and with a variety of liquids. Fourth, the material should be hard enough to allow a good surface finish to be obtained. In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the chamber is fabricated from 17-4 precipitation hardened stainless steel.
With respect to the dimensions of the chamber, both inner and outer diameters, the selected sizes depend upon the intended use of the chamber. For example, smaller chambers are typically preferable for situations in which it is desirable to limit the amount of cavitating medium, for example due to cost or due to limited available energy to drive the cavitation process. On the other hand large chambers, on the order of 8-10 inches or greater, typically simplify experimental set-up and event observation. Thick chamber walls are preferable if the chamber is to be operated at high static pressures. Although the invention is not limited to specific dimensions as previously noted, typical wall thicknesses include 0.25 inches, 0.5 inches, 0.75 inches, 1.5 inches, 2.375 inches, 3.5 inches and 4 inches. Typical outside diameters are in the range of 2-10 inches although larger chambers can be used if sufficient cavitation driving energy is available.
Depending upon the desired cavitation reaction, any of a variety of liquids can be used as the cavitating medium. For example, in one preferred embodiment acetone is used as the cavitating medium. In another embodiment in which the cavitation of the medium results in a nuclear reaction, the cavitating medium is comprised of a host material and a fuel material. The host material is selected from lithium, aluminum, tin, mercury, cadmium, sodium, potassium, gallium, gadolinium indium, lead, bismuth, or an alloy thereof. The fuel material is selected from deuterium, tritium, lithium, or a combination thereof. Alternately the host and fuel materials can be molecularly combined into a single material, e.g., deuterated acetone, heavy water (D2O) and deuterated ethylene glycol. For induced fission reactions, the fuel material is preferably uranium or thorium. In another embodiment in which the cavitation of the medium results in a neutron stripping reaction, preferably between a heavy isotope and a light isotope, the heavy isotope is selected from gadolinium, cadmium, europium, boron, samarium, dysprosium, iridium, mercury, or a mixture thereof while the light isotope is selected from the group consisting of deuterium, tritium, lithium, or a mixture thereof. In this embodiment preferably the heavy isotope has a large thermal neutron capture cross-section, and even more preferably with a thermal neutron capture cross-section of greater than 10 barns.
Attached to chamber 101 are one or more means of driving energy into the chamber in order to cause the desired cavitation of the liquid contained therein. In a preferred embodiment, acoustic drivers (i.e., transducers) 107 are coupled to the exterior surface 103 of chamber 101. In at least one embodiment of the invention in which the chamber is spherical, six acoustic transducers are mounted to the exterior surface of the cavitation chamber, four mounted to the lower hemisphere and two mounted to the upper hemisphere as illustrated in
The operating frequency of the drivers depends upon a variety of factors such as the sound speed of the liquid within the chamber, the shape/geometry of the chamber, the sound field geometry of the drivers, etc. In at least one embodiment, the operating frequency is within the range of 1 kHz to 10 MHz. The selected frequency can be the resonant frequency of the chamber, an integer multiple of the resonant frequency, a non-integer multiple of the resonant frequency, or periodically altered during operation, preferably by less than ±10%.
A closed-loop cavitation fluid circulatory system, as described in detail below relative to
Conduit 111 is coupled to a reservoir 113 by conduit 115. Preferably reservoir 113 is large enough to hold sufficient cavitation fluid to fill chamber 101 and the fluid circulation system. Reservoir 113 is coupled to at least one fluid pump 117 via conduit 119. Pump 117 is coupled to chamber conduit 109 via conduit 121.
Although a separate degassing chamber can be used with the invention, in the preferred embodiment reservoir 113 serves the dual purpose of reservoir and degassing chamber. Degassing the cavitation fluid is critical in order for the collapsing bubbles within cavitation chamber 101 to achieve the desired high velocities, and thus high temperatures, during operation. Accordingly reservoir 113 is coupled to a vacuum pump 123 via a three-way valve 125, valve 125 allowing chamber 113 to be coupled to pump 123 (e.g., for degassing purposes) or open to the atmosphere via conduit 127. By performing the degassing operation while pumping the cavitation fluid through the system, and assuming that pump 123 is coupled to the top of chamber 101 as illustrated to insure that gas is not trapped within the chamber, the entire system can be degassed. Once degassed, the degassing process can be continued while continually pumping the cavitation fluid through the system and operating the cavitation chamber. One benefit of this procedure is the removal of gases generated as a by-product of reactions taking place within chamber 101 (e.g., helium and/or hydrogen that are by-products of many fusion, fission, spallation and neutron stripping reactions). Alternately the degassing procedure can be performed periodically during chamber operation. Alternately after completion of an initial degassing procedure, chamber 101 can be decoupled from the system with a pair of valves 129 and 131 as shown and the degassing procedure discontinued.
As shown and as previously noted, valves 129 and 131 provide a means of isolating cavitation chamber 101 from the circulation system. Chamber isolation can be useful not only during system maintenance, but also during chamber operation. For example, the chamber can be isolated prior to operation thus allowing any heating of the cavitation fluid during operation to cause differential expansion of the fluid as compared to the chamber walls, resulting in an increase in pressure within the chamber and stronger cavitation reactions. Cavitation fluid heating during operation may be due to the cavitation process itself, and/or reactions within the chamber, and/or heat conduction from the drivers.
System 100 provides a straightforward means of either circulating the cavitation fluid, for example during chamber operation, or draining the chamber. For clarity,
Accordingly, by simply switching two valves (i.e., valves 303 and 307), or four valves if the system also includes valves at locations 407 and 409, the system can alternate between a system that circulates the cavitation fluid through chamber 101 and a system that drains the cavitation fluid from chamber 101, placing the fluid back into reservoir 113. It will be appreciated that although the illustrated embodiment is preferred, primarily due to its simplicity, alternate conduit configurations can be used that also provide a means of draining the cavitation fluid out of the chamber without actually draining the circulatory system. Two such alternate embodiments are illustrated in
Regardless of the circulatory system utilized, the first step is to fill the system with cavitation fluid. The cavitation fluid can be added directly to reservoir 113 through conduit 127. Alternately a separate fill tube (not shown) can be added to reservoir 113. Alternately a fill tube 135 can be coupled to the circulatory system via a valve 137, preferably at a location immediately prior to pump 117. In addition to filling the circulatory system prior to operation, the fill tube(s) can be used to replenish the fuel or other reactants contained within the cavitation fluid during operation. Any of the disclosed circulatory systems can also utilize an additional chamber 1201 for either adding more cavitation fluid or replenishing the fuel or other reactants (illustrated in
As previously noted, the circulatory system of the invention allows the cavitation fluid to be removed from cavitation chamber 101 without draining the circulatory system, thus minimizing potential cavitation fluid waste and/or potential cavitation fluid contamination by air or other contaminants. However as the circulatory system may be occasionally drained, for example for system maintenance or cavitation fluid replacement, the system includes one or more drainage ports. In the illustrated embodiments, a drainage port 139 is attached to the lowermost chamber conduit, thus providing one means of draining chamber 101. Alternately, or in addition to port 139, a drainage port 141 can be coupled to the circulatory system, for example directly below reservoir 113 as shown. Typically drain port 139 is preferred as pump 117 can then be used to pump the fluid out of the system. For example, in the embodiment illustrated in
In order to minimize all undesired gas within the cavitation fluid, preferably a bubble trap 143 immediately follows the outlet of pump 117 as shown in the illustrated embodiments, thus helping to eliminate any bubbles generated by the pump itself.
In the preferred embodiments of the invention, the circulatory system includes a filter 145 which removes contaminants from the cavitation fluid, thus preventing the contaminants from potentially disrupting the cavitation process. The contaminants may be native to the cavitation fluid. Alternately, or in addition to native contaminants, the contaminants to be removed may be a product of the cavitation process itself, for example resulting from the flow of the cavitation fluid through the heat exchange system or from the effects of the cavitation process on the internal surfaces of the cavitation chamber. Alternately, or in addition to the above-described contaminants, the contaminants may be a by-product of a reaction taking place within the cavitation chamber. It will be appreciated that the exact nature of filter 145 depends upon the type of cavitation fluid as well as the type of contamination, i.e., impurity, to be removed from the cavitation fluid. As filters are well know, further description is not provided herein.
In at least one of the preferred embodiments, a heat exchange system 147 is coupled to a conduit of the circulatory system, thus allowing the temperature of the cavitation fluid to be controlled. The cavitation fluid can either be continually pumped through heat exchange system 147, i.e., during chamber operation, or used to alter the temperature of the fluid prior to chamber operation. Furthermore heat exchange system 147 can be used to cool the cavitation fluid below ambient temperature, to cool the cavitation fluid by removing excess heat from the cavitation chamber, or to heat the cavitation fluid to a desired temperature.
In a preferred embodiment heat exchange system 147 is used to cool the cavitation fluid below ambient temperature, thus lowering the vapor pressure of the fluid and allowing higher velocities to be achieved by the collapsing bubbles within the chamber. As a result, the cavitating bubbles generate higher temperatures at collapse stagnation. Although in this embodiment heat exchange system 147 is typically located after pump 117 and as close to cavitation chamber 101 as reasonable, thus minimizing the introduction of heat into the cooled cavitation medium from pump 117, the surroundings, etc., it will be appreciated that the location of system 147 relative to pump 117 depends on the ambient temperature, the temperature to which the cavitation fluid is to be maintained, and the preferred operating temperature of the pump.
In another embodiment heat exchange system 147 cools the cavitation fluid by withdrawing excess heat generated within the chamber. The excess heat can be a product of the cavitation process itself as the cavitating bubbles generate heat within the fluid, for example due to viscous effects. The excess heat can also be the product of reactions taking place within the chamber which are promoted by the cavitation process. Such reactions include both chemical reactions and nuclear reactions. The excess heat can also be the result of heat conducted into the cavitation medium from drivers 107 as these drivers may be driven at very high levels (e.g., hundreds of watts of input power). In embodiments in which the cavitation fluid is a hot liquid such as a molten metal or salt, heat exchange system 147 is preferably located before pump 117 rather than after pump 117 as shown in the illustrations. Such a mounting location is preferred as it cools the cavitation fluid before introducing it into pump 117, thus minimizing the pump operating temperature for such applications. It will be appreciated that whether heat exchange system 147 is located before or after pump 117 depends upon the temperatures of the cavitation fluid before and after heat exchange system 147, the ambient temperature and the preferred operating temperatures of pump 117 and the cavitation fluid.
In another embodiment heat exchange system 147 is used to heat the cavitation fluid to the desired operational temperature. Such heating is useful, for example, to promote specific reactions (e.g., chemical reactions) within the cavitation fluid or to maintain the cavitating medium in the fluid phase (i.e., heating to above the melting temperature of the medium). Preferably heat exchange system 147 is positioned relative to pump 117 as shown, thus allowing pump 117 to pump a relatively cool fluid. As previously noted, the location of heat exchange system 147 relative to pump 117 depends upon the temperatures of the cavitation fluid before and after heat exchange system 147, ambient temperature and the preferred operating temperatures of pump 117 and the cavitation fluid.
Heat exchangers are well known by those of skill in the art, and therefore detailed descriptions of possible means of implementing heat exchange system 147 are not provided herein. In general, heat is conducted into or out of a circulatory conduit by placing a portion of the conduit in thermal contact, direct or indirect, with (i) a heated fluid, (ii) a cooled fluid, (iii) a thermoelectric cooler, (iv) a heat sink, (v) a refrigeration system or (v) a heating system. Heat exchange system 147 can also use a combination of heaters/coolers to provide complete temperature regulation of the cavitation fluid. Assuming that heat exchange system 147 uses a temperature regulated fluid, either heated or cooled, the fluid can either be in direct contact with the circulatory conduit 1401 as illustrated in
If sufficient heat is withdrawn from the cavitating liquid by heat exchange system 147, the excess heat can be used to drive any of a variety of thermally powered systems such as heaters, thermoelectric generators and steam turbines (not shown), thus producing electricity that can be used for a variety of applications, including reduction of the electrical demands of the cavitation system itself. Preferably such thermally powered systems are sufficiently efficient to eliminate the need for cooler 1407. If desired, however, cooler 1407 can be used to further lower the temperature of the heat exchange fluid.
Regardless of the exact nature of the circulatory system, i.e., whether the system is configured as shown, or similar to, the configuration of
The first step in the degassing method illustrated in
Once the fluid within reservoir 113 is sufficiently degassed, pump 117 circulates the cavitation fluid through the circulatory system and into cavitation chamber 101 (step 1607), for example as previously described relative to
In order to improve on the level of system degassing, the inventors have found that the above procedure can be further improved by performing a second stage of degassing. Typically the second stage of degassing is initiated either after a preset time period (e.g., preferably after 6 hours, more preferably after 12 hours) or after the pressure within reservoir 113 remains at the vapor pressure of the cavitation fluid for at least 10 minutes, and preferably for at least 30 minutes, and more preferably for at least 1 hour, after the evacuation process is discontinued. During the second stage of degassing, pumping of the cavitation fluid through the cavitation chamber is temporarily discontinued (step 1709). Preferably during this step valve 129 is closed (step 1711). After chamber cavitation has removed sufficient dissolved gas from the cavitation fluid (e.g., typically after at least 5 minutes), valve 129 is opened (step 1713) if it was previously closed, and sufficient cavitation fluid is pumped through the system to cause the bubbles at the top of the chamber to pass out of the chamber and into conduit 115 (step 1715). Gradually the bubbles pumped out of the chamber enter reservoir 113, the speed at which they enter reservoir 113 dependent upon the amount of fluid pumped out of the cavitation chamber during step 1715, the volume of the conduit between the chamber and the reservoir, and the number of times these steps have been performed. The gas removed from the fluid within the chamber and passed into reservoir 113 is removed, as desired, using vacuum pump 123 (step 1717). Typically step 1717 is only performed after there has been a noticeable increase in pressure within reservoir 113, preferably an increase of at least 2 psi over the vapor pressure of the cavitation fluid, alternately an increase of at least 0.2 psi over the vapor pressure of the cavitation fluid, or alternately an increase of at least 0.02 psi over the vapor pressure of the cavitation fluid. Although not required, preferably the cavitation process continues throughout the process. Preferably steps 1709, 1711, 1713, 1715 and 1717, or alternately steps 1709, 1715 and 1717, are repeated until the amount of dissolved gas within the cavitation fluid is so low that the fluid within the cavitation chamber will no longer cavitate at the same cavitation driver power. Typically these steps are performed for at least 12 hours, preferably for at least 24 hours, more preferably for at least 36 hours, and still more preferably for at least 48 hours.
Although at the conclusion of either of the procedures outlined above the cavitation fluid may be sufficiently degassed for many purposes, the inventors have found that further degassing is preferred.
As will be understood by those familiar with the art, the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. For example, by using a conductive material as the cavitation fluid, a magneto-hydrodynamic generator can be coupled to the system. Accordingly, the disclosures and descriptions herein are intended to be illustrative, but not limiting, of the scope of the invention which is set forth in the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||417/53, 417/321|
|International Classification||G21C1/00, F04B49/06, G21B1/00, F04B17/00|
|Cooperative Classification||Y02E30/14, F28D7/0016, F28D7/0041, G21Y2002/302, G21Y2004/30, G21C1/00, Y02E30/18, F28D21/00, F24J3/00, G21B3/00, G21B1/00, G21Y2002/40, G21Y2002/301, Y02E30/30, G21Y2002/304, F28D7/106, Y02E30/40|
|European Classification||G21B3/00, F24J3/00, G21B1/00, G21C1/00|
|Dec 1, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: IMPULSE DEVICES, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:TESSIEN, ROSS ALAN;GAITAN, DARIO FELIPE;REEL/FRAME:016051/0236
Effective date: 20041129
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Owner name: KRAUSZ CAPISTRANO PARTNERS, A CALIFORNIA GENERAL P
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Effective date: 20110722
|Dec 15, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Sep 10, 2013||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BURST LABORATORIES, INC., CALIFORNIA
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:IMPULSE DEVICES INC.;REEL/FRAME:031200/0855
Effective date: 20130524
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